Our Father Who Art in... HELL!
"Specific attention will be paid to targeting people (research suggests these are most likely to be adolescents) who have a void in their life, perhaps caused by some form of emotional trauma or upset. This can be alluringly filled by the music and philosophies of Ghost. In time, these easily manipulated children will come to share the views and goals of the Ghost ministry and can prepare their own plans for the downfall of humanity...."
For a band whose one and only goal is spreading the word of Satan through music and turning young people into devil-worshippers, the music of Ghost is really surprising. While I would expect black metal made by a bunch of angry Norwegian teenagers or death metal made by a bunch of angry American teenagers from such a description, it's pretty obvious that retro rock/metal wouldn't rank high on my expectation list. Taking influences from bands like Black Sabbath and Mercyful Fate, Ghost has created a blasphemous journey that is well-worth taking for an open-minded listener. I don't endorse the band's Satan-worshipping habits in any way, but I have a feeling that some of this is a bit tongue-in-cheek anyway. Ultimately, Ghost's biggest goal with Opus Eponymous was a failure. I have not been turned into a follower of Satan after hearing this album. However, this "anonymous ministry" has pleased me in so many other ways that their original goal is almost irrelevant. Fans of dark, evil, yet somehow beautiful 70's-oriented heavy metal will definitely want to give Opus Eponymous a shot.
This isn't the most "metal" album you'll ever hear, but there's enough metal riffing to definitely qualify. There's not much distortion in the guitars, and the production is also given a very raw, 70's-influenced sound. There's also organ throughout most of the album, which has serves two main purposes. First of all, it gives Opus Eponymous a creepy, church-like atmosphere. Secondly, the organ further adds to Ghost's retro-oriented sound, giving obvious nods to seventies heavy metal legends like Black Sabbath or Deep Purple. The vocals are completely clean - no growls, no shrieks, no distortion. Just pure pipes and I love it. The songs are actually fairly straightforward, with verse-chorus-verse structures as the name of the game. Every song is very memorable, especially tracks like "Ritual", "Elizabeth", and the very progressive closer "Genesis". The lyrics are very Satanic and over-the-top, without ever becoming extremely silly and meaningless. Some lines are pretty poorly written, but the vast majority of the album has well-composed lyrics. My biggest knock is the rather short playing time, at only 34 minutes. While there is no filler, another 10-15 minutes definitely could've worked.
Every musician in Ghost is completely anonymous - no first names, nicknames, nothing. We have no idea who played what - all we know is that, judging by their band picture, six people are in Ghost. There are rumors going around that these are all prolific musicians doing something a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it could also be a true Satan-worshipping ministry who decided to release an album.
I was really taken by surprise by Opus Eponymous. Obviously, I knew nothing about the musicians that were in it, nor was I expecting a 70's-sounding metal album. The Satanic lyrics and short playing time can get in the way occasionally, but the great atmosphere and memorable compositions are enough to make up for any setbacks. 3.5-4 stars are well deserved here. People who like old school heavy metal with plenty of psychedelic and progressive leanings will definitely enjoy this. Few bands play this style nowadays, and hearing a new and original band like Ghost pleases me tremendously. Recommended!